You can saw a house in half, but how about a dog? Maybe more prenups are the answer to the bizarre battles over marital property
In the event of the break-up of a relationship, dividing the spoils can be tough.
Who keeps the Steps CD that you bought together on that day trip to Bangor? Was the copy of The Female Eunuch a gift or a loan? Who paid for more pizzas, and does this counter that last, epic taxi fare? So we can all surely sympathise with Dr Richard Batista in Long Island, and his estranged wife, Dawnell.
"This is my last resort. I did not want to do this publicly," said Dr Batista about the row that has erupted over a particular item of property. "I feel humbled and betrayed and disregarded. This divorce is killing me." This divorce may kill Mrs Batista sooner than him, however, if her surgeon husband gets his way. He gave her a kidney in 2001; now he wants it back.
While Dr Batista is willing to settle for $1.5m for her to keep the kidney and hurry up the divorce, other spurned lovers have not been so reasonable.
Last week, Hannibal Helmerto, a sword swallower, revealed that he had removed two teeth and replaced them with fakes made from his 40,000-year-old mammoth tusk, in order to keep it out of the hands of his soon-to-be ex-wife. "I've had to divide everything with her, from teaspoons to money," he said. "I could bear to lose everything but my ivory." And last autumn, a Cambodian couple ended their 18-year marriage, and sawed their house in half. "Very strange," said 35-year-old Vat Navy, "but this is what my husband wanted."
Back in 2001, a German man, Herman Gauster, sued his wife for her 38FF breast implants, citing a prenup in which she had promised to return any property gained during the course of her marriage.
In a 2005 survey by Direct Line Insurance, more than a third of respondents insisted they would take legal action over custody of the pets, while one in six said they'd spend as much as £10,000 on the battle. Custody of the dog is the most disputed, followed by cats, then horses. And there are many cases of former spouses killing a pet so their former beloved can't have it. One American lawyer cited "a bizarre case with a parrot. Before he gave it to her, he taught it obscenities just to embarrass her."
All this could be avoided, perhaps, with more prenups. Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported a growing trend. One prenup insisted on the right to perform random drug tests. Another limited the wife's weight to 120lb, with a £100,000 penalty for weight gain. Mrs Batista, meanwhile, is hoping not to lose her pound of flesh.